DFC has been involved in a wide range of projects over the last 10 years, around 1680 projects in total! It’s fair to say that a lot of these projects look great on a website or brochure, but we would pushing our luck to take any credit for, or celebrate them, solely for their aesthetic design.
Perhaps the best way to celebrate our projects is to focus on what they have meant to us. There are so many examples over 10 years that this post would be too long if we celebrated them all, so we asked our team to select those projects they would like to celebrate.
Some common themes emerged…
The First One
Craig & Jonny were keen to celebrate our involvement at The O2. This was project 0001 for DFC and without this project, it’s fair to say that DFC would not have hit the ground running quite so strongly and may even have folded in those formative months.
10 years on, we are still involved at The O2. We have facilitated their operational plans, provided detailed analysis of individual events, monitored their building maintenance programme and provided fire safety engineering on major new works (e.g. Up at the O2 and Icon retail outlet).
As an individual project, we are happy to celebrate our long term relationship with the O2 and remain grateful for their belief in us from the start. In a wider sense, this scheme has given DFC the opportunity to offer and to teach full fire safety engineering works from concept design to handover and beyond, even before ‘The Golden Thread’ term was coined…speaking of which…
The ‘Golden Thread’
Many of our team celebrated the first DFC project that they were involved in from concept design all the way through construction. The complete ‘Golden Thread’.
This has certainly been the case with recent major schemes such as Gore Street, Unity Square and Circle Square and it puts us in good stead to be ready for the future incorporation of the new Building Safety Bill. Our team clearly enjoy this type of work and are keen to face the associated challenges – perhaps in conflict with the traditional outside view of fire engineers. This is great news for the future.
Some members of the team have been delighted to be part of a couple of recent major wins for DFC. These schemes give our team the chance to flex their engineering muscles, collaborate with a significant design team and take pleasure in projects that are so iconic. But don’t just take my word for it…
Gateshead Quays is a natural evolution of DFC’s Arena and Venue work, having started with the O2 10 years’ ago we’re still at the forefront of large scale venues. It’s also the perfect case study for demonstrating the benefits that performance-based design can bring and the value of good fire engineering.
Sugar House Island was one of the first projects I got involved in at DFC. The project contains multiple plots including a school, residential buildings and offices, each providing different challenges and giving a real variety to keep the work interesting.
Big engineering doesn’t just mean big schemes. The opportunity for really clever fire engineering is a clear cause for celebration for some, as they relish the opportunity for learning, delivering challenging solutions and being involved in a project that they can be proud of beyond their career at DFC. One to tell their mates about!
Energy House at the University of Salford is one such project, and I made the mistake of asking Gemma to explain why…
‘…Its an energy performance testing facility. Nothing I have ever worked on before and likely won’t again. Looks really straight forward, two testing chambers and single stair to plant area at high level.
Turns out it was quite complex and maintaining the thermal performance to maintain adequate testing conditions in ‘snow’, ‘rain’ and 40ºC ’sunshine’ within each chamber proved particularly challenging. I don’t know anyone that has worked on a building with this sort of functionality.
To get the strategy right, a lot of thinking outside the box was required whilst running everything past all of the additional stakeholders…Means the most to me because I was able to build a really good relationship with the design team…It felt like we were all exploring new ideas and learning from each other. Here is a video for a better idea of the project: https://energyhouse.salford.ac.uk’
Care & Duty
For some, their reason to celebrate a project is more about acting on their moral and ethical desire to give back to society and community.
In some instances, such as in Rochdale Town Hall, this is about refurbishing a dilapidated building and bringing a beautiful heritage building back to its full community use.
In other examples, we have offered charitable organisations access fire engineering that wouldn’t typically be affordable, so that they can upgrade their facility and continue to meet the needs of their community and larger society. Derian House and the Peace Centre were excellent examples of this.
Some schemes are not as easy to celebrate in a normal sense, they are borne out of necessity, but nevertheless we can celebrate the delivery of our expertise, deftness and agility to respond quickly and precisely to the demand. No greater example of this was our involvement in the development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at Manchester Central, where we dropped everything to deliver the required expertise quickly. No mean feat, but few causes are greater or have as much impact.
Over the past few years we have been heavily involved in the review of external wall cladding issues on a building-by-building basis, solving significant problems for building users by the best means available. Linked to this is our continued attendance and input to government discussion to help effect change at national level. It’s not possible for us to ‘celebrate’ this work, but nonetheless it is work that we are proud to be committed to and we continue to strive for a positive outcome that can be celebrated.
- Posted by Iain Macfarlane
- On 12th November 2020